It never ceases to amaze me of the various innovative uses that people, businesses, and whole industries can come up with for the iPad. The FAA released a decision today based on three months of study allowing Executive Jet Management, a private jet charter and management service, to use iPads running charting software rather than lugging aboard all the old school paper maps and charts for their destinations. While only applicable for this one company at the moment, this decision will certainly open up the possibility for larger commercial carriers to follow suit.
From the sounds of the tests, the FAA really put the iPad through the wringer around the device’s capabilities under pressure – actually, depressurization is more like it, simulating rapid decompression from up to 51,000 feet to make sure the device still worked properly. It was tested on over 250 flights in 10 different types of aircraft, and monitored closely for potential electronic interference with navigation systems. So, wait, does that mean that I can use my iPad during takeoff and landing now?
Having the iPads mounted in the cockpit as a primary navigation computer would save space and weight, cutting down from over 25 pounds of paper maps and charts pilots normally have to bring along. If the larger commercial air carriers were able to use this tech as well, connecting to in-flight Wi-Fi or network services available to the flight crew, these maps could even update in real time, incorporating weather information, GPS, passenger manifests, all sorts of information that can be readily available to the pilots.
Now, just be wary if you get a Game Center invite from the pilot halfway through the flight . . . I hear they are wicked good at “Flight Control HD”.